Deciding Whether to Donate Your Healthy Kidney

Donate a Kidney

Your decision to donate your kidney to a loved one or person in need should be considered a life-enhancing gift based on a desire to dramatically improve the quality of that person's life.

Are You a Match?

To determine your eligibility as a potential donor, you will need to have a thorough medical and psychosocial evaluation. If a health problem is found during the evaluation process you will be referred to your private physician for further evaluation and treatment. If a serious health problem is found it is possible that you may not be able to donate.

The medical evaluation of a living donor ensures that you have good kidney function and no major risk factors for future kidney disease. However, if you are young, this medical evaluation cannot perfectly predict whether you will develop kidney disease in the distant future.

After careful evaluation, the transplant team will make a decision regarding your suitability for donation.

Motivation

You will meet privately with a registered nurse, social worker, physician, and living donor advocate who will each discuss this decision with you. You are free to withdraw your decision to donate at any time. The transplant team would help you to discontinue the donor evaluation in a way that is protected and confidential.

The decision to donate your kidney should be completely voluntary, and free from undue pressure or monetary compensation. Under the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA), the sale or purchase of organs is a federal crime, subject to $50,000 fine or up to five years in prison. Donors should understand that it is illegal to receive money or any other material benefit such as property, vacations etc. (also called valuable consideration) for agreeing to be a donor. In certain circumstances, donors may be reimbursed for limited travel expenses and/or may receive subsistence assistance if financially qualified.

Recipient Benefits

Benefits of Donating a Kidney to Another
  • Recipients usually experience an enhanced quality of life immediately after receiving a live donor transplant.
  • A live donor transplant lasts about twice as long, on average, as a deceased donor kidney.
  • The likelihood of the recipient’s immune system rejecting the donor’s kidney is less frequent with living donor transplantation.
  • A live donor transplant also indirectly makes a deceased donor kidney available for someone else awaiting transplant who has no living donor available to them.

Donor Benefits

Generally, a willing donor receives tremendous emotional benefit by fulfilling their wish to donate. There is no medical benefit to you having this surgery. However, a possible medical benefit of the evaluation is finding out about health problems that you did not know that you have. Discovering these health problems may allow you to seek treatment.

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